By Ronald Stein
The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) prioritizes protecting public health, safety, and the environment in its oversight of the oil, natural gas, and geothermal industries, while working to help California achieve its climate change and clean energy goals. To do that, CalGEM uses science and sound engineering practices to regulate the drilling, operation, and permanent closure of energy resource wells.
The rulemaking efforts toward protecting public health and safety and environmental quality needs to include a focus on energy and reliability, as the world has become reliant on more than 6,000 products made from the derivatives of petroleum, and reliant upon the numerous transportation infrastructures driven (no pun intended) by the fuels manufactured from crude oil, all of which did not exist before the 1900’s. The intermittent electricity from wind and solar are incapable of providing the derivatives and fuels that are the basis of the worlds’ economies.
While the world is feverously trying to reduce emissions from fossil fuel usage, we get hit with the horrific contagious Coronavirus COVID-19. We have seen extensive self-imposed social adjustments to transportation that are very similar to what will be required to live with less fossil fuels in the future.
We have seen a serious reduction in the usage of the transportation infrastructures of airlines and cruise ships, as well as automobiles and trucks, and their impact on the leisure and entertainment industries, all to avoid crowds.
Before fossil fuels and the thousands of products made from petroleum derivatives, and electricity that followed, the world was a zero-sum snake pit that was a war against one another scrounging for food, water, and shelter. In the 1800’s most people never traveled 100-200 miles from where they were born. Life expectancy throughout Europe hovered between 20 and 30 years of age.
The social lifestyles before 1900 had no such transportation choices, as they had no autos, planes, or cruise ships for transportation. The inventions of the automobile, airplane, and the use of petroleum in the early 1900’s led us into the Industrial Revolution. Crude oil, natural gas, and coal changed – for the better – the lifestyles of every person living in developed countries such as, the U.S., Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
We would not be able to “make products and move things” if not for the thousands of products from petroleum derivatives that get manufactured from crude oil that wind turbines and solar panels cannot manufacture. A few of those products that are part of economies around the world, and all the infrastructures that are increasing their demand and usage each year of those energy sources from deep earth minerals/fuels to make thousands of products, inclusive of but not limited to:
- Medications, vaccines, antibiotics, and medical equipment that are all made with the derivatives from petroleum. Vaccines need refrigeration, and refrigeration need electricity, especially in the hospital sector where redundant generation capacity is a mandate…
- Electronics that are all made with the derivatives from petroleum.
- Commercial aviation, with 23,000 commercial airplanes worldwide that has been accommodating 4 billion passenger annually.
- Cruise liners, each of which consumes 80,000 gallons of fuels daily, that have been accommodating more than 25 million passengers annually worldwide.
- The 53,000 merchant ships burning more than 120 million gallons a day of high sulfur bunker fuel (soon to be converted to diesel fuel to reduce sulfur emissions) moving products worldwide worth billions of dollars daily.
- The military presence that protects each country from each other, is increasing each year to save the world.
- Usage of fertilizers that accommodates growth of much of the food that feeds billions annually.
- Vehicle manufacturing as all parts are based on the chemical and by-products from fossil fuels.
- The usage of asphalt for road construction.
I appreciate the need to take care of our environment and I believe that all corporations need to remain good corporate citizens by protecting the environment, investing in the local community and creating jobs that pay wages that allow their employees to raise families close to the communities where they work. All of this can be done. Now more than ever, it will be important to focus on rebuilding California’s economy and this is done by an inclusive and thoughtful approach. We need to be careful as we move forward and not allow for this to become a war of extremes.